BRITE-AUSTRIA - Development, Test, Launch and Operations of the Nanosatellite TUGSAT-1/BRITE-Austria for Asteroseismology

In 2011 the TUGSAT-1/BRITE-Austria nanosatellite successfully completed its flight readiness review. The BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) mission has the scientific aim to investigate the brightness variations of massive luminous stars with unprecedented precision.

Short Description

Such measurements can be done from space much more efficiently, since ground-based observations would be severely handicapped by the terrestrial atmosphere. The scientific data will lead to a better understanding of the physical properties of these stars and to improved theories.

The spacecraft has a size of 20 x 20 x 20 cm and a launch mass of 7 kg. The scientific payload is a telescope with a CCD sensor operating as a differential photometer. Three miniaturized momentum wheels together with attitude sensors provide precise pointing of the spacecraft to the target stars. Power is generated by solar cells placed on all faces of the spacecraft. Three nearly-identical computers are on board:

  • one for house-keeping and telemetry,
  • one for autonomous attitude control and
  • one for controlling the science payload.

Commands are sent from the ground in the UHF band, whereas science data and telemetry are downlinked via the S-band transmitter of the spacecraft. An elaborate power management on board enables efficient utilization of the limited electrical power.

TUGSAT-1/BRITE-Austria underwent extensive environmental testing at TU Graz, including thermal shock tests of all electronic subsystems, full functional tests on the so-called “Flatsat”, vibration testing of the assembled spacecraft, open-field test of the telescope and the telemetry system as well as electromag-netic compatibility verification. The most critical test was the thermal vacuum test of the whole spacecraft.

TUGSAT-1/BRITE- Austria will be launched together with its sister satellite UniBRITE (ordered by the University of Vienna from UTIAS, Canada) from Southern India by the ISRO/ANTRIX Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), a highly reliable rocket, early in 2013. The mission control centre and ground station for TUGSAT-1/BRITE-Austria was established at TU Graz. A backup ground station was built by the Vienna University of Technology.

TUGSAT-1/BRITE-Austria will be part of the world's first nanosatellite constellation for space astronomy. Two Polish and two Canadian satellites will join the Austrian BRITEs in 2013.

Project Partners


Graz University of Technology, Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications - Otto Koudelka


University of Vienna, Department of Astrophysics - Werner Weiss

Contact Address